Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

DonorsChoose Time for ScienceBlogs!

This year I’m taking part in the the DonorsChoose fundraiser taking place at ScienceBlogs. DonorsChoose is a website where teachers can ask to have small teaching projects funded, and potential donors can peruse the proposals can fund ones that seemed worthwhile. Many of the teachers who submit proposals to DonorsChoose are in areas of the country with poor educational funding and high poverty rates, and are for basic teaching materials. I’m trying to raise $1000 to fund three projects, described below:

1. I Want To Go To College But How Do I Do That?

This proposal, submitted by a concerned high school Algebra teacher, outlines a project to help students graduating from Jordan High School in Watts (Los Angeles, CA) begin to consider going to college, and then prepare them for that goal.

If they have decided they want to go to college, the “how” is completely lacking. As most of these students would be the first in their families to go to college, parental involvement, while not lacking, is simply inadequate to provide the necessary guidance.

The teacher wishes to create a resource for her students, the “College and Career Corner,” which would contain reference materials she could use in developing workshops for her students on how to get into college and what to do to be successful in college.

There is a 7 in 10 chance that a young black man living in Watts neighborhood is unemployed or in prison; you can help my students beat these odds.

2. Starry-Eyed Fifth Graders

A teacher at Pine View Elementary School in New Albany, Indiana has submitted a proposal for star atlases to assist in teaching his fascinated classroom about constellations and the universe. Right now he only has one atlas for the whole class, and it is so well-loved it is falling apart. He would like to be able to buy 15 copies of the “Children’s Night Atlas,” for his 90 (3 classes of 30) students to use.

3. “Phineas Gage” Books for Nervous System Lessons

This one is particularly interesting since it involves neuroscience and would benefit students in the South, where I grew up. A teacher at Downtown Middle School in Winston-Salem, NC would like to engage her students in neuroscience by using the case study of Phineas Gage to capture their attention. She would like 30 copies of “Phineas Gage: The Gruesome But True Story of Brain Science” which she would have her students read during their unit on the nervous system and the brain. I checked out this book on Amazon and it had gotten excellent reviews all around, and apparently goes much farther than Gage’s case into explaining the nervous system though pictures and diagrams. Looks like a great resource!

All of these proposals can be funded for about $1000.00. ScienceBlogs will be asking for donations for just one month, so I really hope that I can raise enough money to fund at least one of these. If you are feeling charitable, I would be so thrilled if you would contribute even just a buck to help these teachers with their projects (the link will be in my sidebar for a month.) Thank you!


  1. #1 Mr. Helpfull
    October 2, 2007

    There is no reason that you cannot do all three of these for half the price. The first one should be drawn up from ready made sites/pages of where to apply for loans, and who to talk with/mentor from then contact the admissions department from the local colleges for thier input and resources to add. This could be composed into a free service website (microsoft gives away level one domains for no hosting cost or setup! )for the class/school that could be handed off to those who suceed from it to develop for others.

    The second and third are solved by Childrens Night Atlas ($10-$13 X 15) = roughly $200
    and Phineas Gage: The Gruesome But True Story of Brain Science ($7-$10×30) = roughly $300

    There is $500 to spare. A big issue is how to use the fund efficently and no just buy from Dunder Mifflin because we buy from Dunder Mifflin. Best of luck for a good cause.

  2. #2 Shelley Batts
    October 2, 2007

    Well, I’d be just as happy if people donated *half* as much as they might have. 🙂 Any bit helps.

    The cost of the books is about the same as the listed projects, DonorsChoose site charges a small fee called fufillment which is just the cost of running the site and personnel. However even this is sometimes waived if you raise more than your goal.

    The go-to-college project is no small undertaking, I can speak as I used to be the blogmistress behind a major college scholarship website. Weeding the wheat from the chaff, the scholarships from the spam, the good lenders from the conmen, and the manhours involved in one-on-one counseling, essay development, test taking skill….saying it should be done for free is asking more from a teacher than seems reasonable.

  3. #3 kickstand
    October 9, 2007

    OK, I sent a few bucks to the teacher to get the Childrens Night Atlas and I get this than you:

    Thank you for the great books. I am so excited to get these books and teach Astrology again!

    What? She’s going to use them to teach astrology? Is this for real? I wanted to help kids learn science, not superstition.

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